While Fashion Week often gets a lot of press for the cash windfall it brings the city -- a reported $865 million this year alone -- Lincoln Center residents are reportedly tired of the twice-yearly tents in their neighborhood.
According to The New York Times, a group of local residents have gone as far as to send the city a letter demanding that the Damrosch Park -- the area where Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week sets up tents twice a year -- be reinstated as a public park for local residents. Since the tents moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center in 2010, the residents claim that Damorsch Park is used for private events -- from Fashion Week to the Big Apple Circus -- and therefore off-limits to the public for a hefty chunk of the year. In addition, the group takes issue with the money that the city pockets from the week:
At a news conference on Tuesday outside Lincoln Center, Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, criticized the city over the terms of its agreement with Lincoln Center, which allows the center to keep all the revenue generated by subleasing the park to outside groups. Fashion Week alone will pay $17.2 million over five years to use the park, Mr. Croft said ... “It’s illegal,” Mr. Croft said. “According to the City Charter, all of that money has to go back to the city’s general fund."
The city, of of course, has been quick to point out that Lincoln Center has been solely responsible for the park's upkeep, and so deserves to pocket the revenue. The city also points out that overall revenue that Fashion Week brings to New York, and the number of jobs that the fashion industry supports locally. The city also defended its having removed a reported 67 trees from the park to make construction possible for the tents by saying that many of them were sick, and the absence was made up in the planting of 88 trees on the Lincoln Center campus, and more than 200 within a mile of Damrosch Park.
Speaking as people who've had to shuffle back and forth to the tents at Lincoln Center each Fashion Week, we can attest that the area becomes an absolute zoo around Fashion Week, and must cause no small amount of distress on local residents. Unlike Bryant Park, which was surrounded primarily by commercial space, there are plenty of residential buildings surrounding Lincoln Center, making the situation even more difficult. That said, the relatively new location has two big benefits: It provides more square footage for an event that rakes in a big chunk of change for the city, and it also is helping to support the worthy arts at Lincoln Center.
That said, the residents have apparently threatened to take the issue to court if it's warranted, and we're betting Bloomberg's plan to move Fashion Week to the Hudson Yards is still quick some time away, if it ever happens.